Truly Interesting Facts About Whiskey
What are some interesting facts about whiskey?
- Whisky or Whiskey?
- Whiskey starts out as beer
- The Angel’s Tax
- Don’t add ice
- Knowing your international whiskies/whiskeys
While you’re sipping down your ice cold glass of liquor in the Philippines, you may tend to wonder what the history of your drink is or what are some cool facts behind it. If you happen to love whiskey, or shall we say whisky; you may not know that it’s one of the most interesting drinks in the world. Here are some truly interesting facts about whiskey:
Whisky or Whiskey?
You may have noticed that some whiskies or whiskeys are spelled either with an E between the K and the Y, while others don’t include the E. If you’re wondering, they’re both correct and perfectly acceptable. It may be confusing, but it all depends on the geography of where the whiskey/whisky was made.
Irish and American whiskey is spelled with an E. While the Scots and Canadians spell their whisky without the E between the K and the Y. This began during the 19th century when the Irish wanted to make a distinction between their own spirit. Around the 1870s, Scotch whisky was known to be of poor quality and horrible taste, Scotch whisky was poorly distilled in Coffey stills. When the Irish made their whiskeys and exported them to America, they wanted to differentiate themselves from the low-quality whisky of the Scots.
Adding the E between the K and the Y was the crucial distinction between higher quality spirits and lower quality spirits. Though in modern times, scotch whiskey is one of the greatest liquor in the world. Despite this, their spellings never changed.
Whiskey Starts Out as Beer
If you’re wondering how whiskey/whisky is made, it’s actually quite similar with beer. Both are made of the same ingredients but the defining factor in the process of making whiskey/whisky and beer are the more meticulous steps involved. But it is currently known that whiskey starts out as beer.
The process of both beer-making and whiskey-making involve mashing the grain. This is where you extract the fermentable sugars from your grain. Next is to collect the water and rinse the grain to collect the sugar. The more sugar you collect, the better. Then, you would boil the sweet water and add your flavorings. Next step is to cool it and ferment it. Those are the basics to crafting beer. When you talk about spirits, you’ll follow the first few steps but then you should ferment the liquid before you cook it. It’s essential for the liquid not to reach its boiling point, but just enough heat to evaporate the alcohol.
It’s interesting to know that one of the world’s most enjoyed spirit starts out in life as beer. Who would’ve known? This is probably why pairing beer and whiskey always seems perfect.
The Angel’s Tax
There’s a whiskey phenomenon that happens to barrels of whiskey every year. It’s a tragedy that a certain percentage of whiskey evaporates from barrels during the distillation process, no matter how sealed or tightly closed the barrels are. Distillers claim that around 2% to 4% of the total liquid in a barrel is lost, every year.
People call this strange phenomenon the angel’s pinch, angel’s share, or angel’s tax. It’s called so due to the mystery of how sealed barrels of whiskey could drop in liquid content. Distillers were truly baffled by this because whiskey would only be lost in barrels, not in bottles.
It was said that angels would take a portion of the delicious concoction that we would craft. This was the angel’s form of taxing us. It is known that the angels would tax whiskey based on how long it’s aged. It was recently reported that around 29 million gallons of whiskey are lost each year from the angel’s tax. To put that into perspective, that’s around 44 Olympic-sized pools worth of whiskey lost yearly.
Don’t Add Ice
To taste the full flavor of whiskey, it’s best not to put ice. To truly appreciate the flavor is whiskey doesn’t mean taking it neat as well. Whiskey on the rocks will reduce the temperature of the liquid too much, reducing its flavor and freezing the aroma, rendering it bland. If you really want to add ice, just one cube is acceptable.
The best way to enjoy whiskey is to add a splash of water. Most often than not, taking your whiskey plain may numb your taste buds, you may not truly enjoy the flavor of the whiskey you’re drinking. Adding a splash of water to your glass of whiskey prevents the alcohol content of your drink from numbing your sense of taste.
Avoid water with high levels of chlorine, such as tap water, this spoils the flavor of whiskey. The best type of water to add into your glass of whiskey is soft still spring water; this will amplify the aroma of whiskey and somehow enhance its taste.
Knowing Your Whiskies/Whiskeys
Bourbon originally comes from the United States of America, specifically from Kentucky. American brewers started to craft their own whiskey during the 18th century. Containing approximately 51% corn and aged in virgin barrels for at least 2 years. Bourbon may contain 80 to 101 proof. It tastes sweeter than other whiskeys with a hint of corn.
Tennessee whiskey may seem quite similar to bourbon, but it’s not actually the same thing, despite also being from the United States of America. The difference between bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey is all in the process. Tennessee whiskey is dripped through charcoal; a process is known as the Lincoln County Process. Due to the process of dripping it in charcoal, it tastes milder than bourbon and is a tad bit sweeter.
Rye whiskey is made out of a mash of rye, hence the name. This type of whiskey also stems from Kentucky. The mash of rye in this whiskey makes for a spicier and dryer drink compared to the sweet taste of bourbon. Think of rye whiskey as the drier and spicy version of bourbon.
Scotch refers to the whisky of Scotland – Scottish whisky or scotch whisky. Varying from grain or malt, the secret to a great scotch lies in the aging of the whisky. The longer a scotch whisky sits in a barrel, the better its taste. As a rule, when scotch is barreled, it has to sit there for at least 3 years. There is single malt scotch which can be a blend of whiskies from the same distillery or blended scotch which means that your scotch is a product of multiple distilleries. The distinct smoky taste of scotch will always be its main feature; it’s what makes it great!
Irish whiskey, the neighboring whiskey of the scotch. Centuries ago, the Irish have always wanted to craft better tasting whiskey than the Scots. Once they did, they had to change the spelling of whisky to whiskey in order for people to differentiate high-quality spirits from low-quality spirits. Irish whiskey has always been regarded for its smoothness and mildly sweet taste.
Canadian whisky is a lot lighter than most other whiskeys around the world. It is often referred to as brown vodka. The Canadians brew their whisky with a mash that consists of corn and other grains. Though Canadian whisky is not really known to produce quality spirits, it’s good enough to warm you up. Most of these whiskies have a slight hint of caramel.
Japanese whisky is known to be very close to scotch in terms of taste and may somehow be of higher quality than scotch whisky. Crisp in taste with hints of sweetness, Japanese whisky is known to be quite similar to Western flavors with the use of single malt and blended whiskies. And no, they’re not made from rice.
Whiskey/whisky is one of the most interesting spirits in the world. With millions of consumers across the globe, they have been known to steal the show for centuries. It comes to no surprise that consumers of liquor in the Philippines will most likely tell you that they enjoy a glass of whiskey much more than any other alcoholic drink. If you’re looking to grab your own bottle of the best whiskey in the Philippines, click here to check out Alcoline’s list of products.